The Innocently Disturbing World of Cardcaptor Sakura
CLAMP are among my favorite manga writers and artists. Among their works is Cardcaptor Sakura, which I binged on yesterday. I enjoy the series immensely. But, at the same time, I find the series, despite its innocence, greatly disturbing.
By far the largest source of disturbance I have about the series is the depiction of romance. While some of the romances are perfectly sweet and innocent, many of the relationships are not.
My biggest concerns lie with teachers having romantic feelings/ relationships with their students. In the series, there are three such relationships. Fujitaka (Sakura’s father) was Nadeshiko’s (Sakura’s mother) teacher when they fell in love (and she was sixteen when they married). Tarada, an elementary school teacher, is in love with his student, Rika. And, finally, student teacher Kaho has a year long relationship with her, at the time, former student, Toya.
These relationships are represented as being okay. But they are, honestly, anything but. The relationship of teacher to student is inherently fraught with an inequality of power. The teacher, no matter his or her intentions, has a great deal of power over their students. So, whether or not Toya or Nadeshiko genuinely love their sensei does not matter. Kaho and Fujitaka abused their power. And the Rika/ Tarada relationship? Pedophile. Enough said.
What Cardcaptor Sakura reveals is a disturbing trend in art that requires romance as an integral element of the story. Even when said romance takes away from the story. Or its presence, as in Cardcaptor Sakura and other literature for children, is wholly inappropriate baring school yard infatuations.
And therein lies the root of the matter, I think. Cardcaptor Sakura makes the mistake of treating innocent crushes as being equivalent to romantic love. But while those crushes may feel that way for the children involved, it is not the same as romantic love.
And it is never appropriate for teachers to have romantic relations with their students. Period.
CLAMP’s work is amazing. But often times their writing is more mature than the age demographic they are writing for. And I think this is certainly the case with Cardcaptor Sakura, no matter how innocent the series looks to be.